Diahann Carroll (born July 17, 1935), is an American actress and singer. Born in New York City, she attended its LaGuardia High School for performing arts. Carroll was born Carol Diahann Johnson in The Bronx, New York, to John Johnson and Mabel Faulk. Her family moved to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City when she was an infant. She attended Music & Art High School, along with schoolmate Billy Dee Williams.
She appeared in the prestigious African-American themed films, Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess(1959).
Carroll has been married four times. Diahann married Monte Kay in 1956. They had first met when he worked as casting director for House of Flowers. Mr. Kay was from Brooklyn and Diahann’s father had serious problems accepting his daughter wanted to marry a white man, but he soon came over it. Together Diahann and Monte had one child, a daughter they named Suzanne. She was born September 9, 1960. They divorced some time later, but remains friends until this very day.
Diahann’s second husband was Freddie Glusman, whom she married in 1973. Mr. Glausman owned a chain of women’s shops. The marriage ended very soon and very abrupt when Diahann had to call the police because of Mr. Glausman’s violent tendencies.
Diahann Carroll’s third husband was a Jet Magazine managing editor named Robert DeLeon. They wed in May, 1975. They were still married when he was killed in a car accident on March 31, 1977.
Singer Vic Damone became Diahann’s fourth husband in January of 1987. By then they had already been a couple for a few years. They divorced in 1996.
Unable to break through into the top ranks in film (she appeared in a secondary role once again in Paris Blues 1961), a Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward (vehicle), Diahann returned to Broadway. She was rewarded with a Tony Award for her exceptional performance as a fashion model in the 1962 musical “No Strings,” a bold, interracial love story that co-starred Richard Kiley.
Richard Rodgers, whose first musical this was after the death of partner Oscar Hammerstein, wrote the part specifically for Diahann, which included her lovely rendition of the song standard “The Sweetest Sounds.” By this time she had already begun to record albums (“Diahann Carroll Sings Harold Arlen” 1957), “Diahann Carroll and Andre Previn” (1960), “The Fabulous Diahann Carroll” (1962).
Little did Diahann know that in the late 1960s she would break a major ethnic barrier on the small screen. Though it was nearly impossible to suppress the natural glamour and sophistication of Diahann, she touchingly portrayed an ordinary nurse and widow struggling to raise a small son in the series “Julia” and Danny Kaye’s musical variety shows (1968). Despite other Black American actresses starring in a TV series (i.e.,Hattie McDaniel in “Beulah”),
Diahann became the first full-fledged African-American female “star” — top billed, in which the show centered around her lead character. The show gradually rose in ratings and Diahann won a Golden Globe award for “Best Newcomer” and an Emmy nomination. The show lasted only two seasons, at her request. (1974), as a Harlem woman raising six children on her own. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, but her acting career would become more and more erratic after this period.
She did return, however, to the stage with productions of “Same Time, Next Year” and “Agnes of God”, with occasional acting appearances to fill in the gaps. She also portrayed silent screen diva Norma Desmond in the musical version of “Sunset Blvd.” and toured America performing classic Broadway standards in the concert show “Almost Like Being in Love:The Lerner and Loewe Songbook.”
In 1984, she joined the evening television soap opera series, Dynasty as Dominique Deveraux. She went on to appear in its spin off, The Colby’s, in 1987. She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen awards and nominations.
A renewed interest in film led Diahann to the dressed-down title role of Claudine. Throughout the late 1980s and early 90s she toured with her fourth husband, singer Vic Damone.
Most recently she had a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005). She is a breast cancer survivor and activist.
Diahann Carroll’s one-woman show, The Lady… The Music… The Legend, will be filmed for future presentation on PBS stations. The live performance will be filmed April 21, 2010 at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, CA.
June 25, 2010 Diahann Carroll Shines During Tribute Concert. The hour-long concert’s a re-cap of an exceptional career, as Diahann swings and sways through her memorable musical oeuvre. We’re reminded that she starred in the Broadway musical, House of Flowers, written by Truman Capote about competing bordellos in the West Indies, with the score and lyrics by Harold Arlen. Pearl Bailey starred as a madam, with the virginal Diahann (Ottilie) under her tutelage. The tender ballad, A Sleeping Bee, became a signature song for Diahann, and House of Flowers was the first Broadway musical with its blues and calypso score to employ the steel pan that’s popular in the Caribbean tropics.
July 17, 2010 Hollywood News What a month for Diahann Carroll, with USA’s “White Collar” starting its second season amid strong ratings and critical kudos — even as she launches her “The Lady…The Music…The Legend.” PBS special with its debut airing set for July 31 on Los Angeles’ station KCET. And the ever-glamorous Diahann turns 75 on Saturday (7/17).
August 8, 2010: Charity Auction, Diahann Carroll has donated a signed copy of her excellent book, “The Legs Are The Last To Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying & Other Things I Learned The Hard Way” to the Screen Actor’s Guild Foundation for their book auction to benefit children’s literacy.
Diahann Carroll : The Lady, The Music, The Legend will premiere on WNET, September 14, 2010. The special will also be seen on WLIW21 on September 15 at 8pm.
July 22, 2011: Diahann to receive Lifetime Achievement Award of the NAACP Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award. It will be handed out at the 21st Annual NAACP Theatre Awards, held at the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) Monday, August 29, 2011.